I disabled my online dating profile today because someone without a picture or anything written on their profile page sent me a creepy message asking if I was at a particular restaurant a few nights ago with another woman and a baby. I was. And that absolutely terrified me.
It scared me enough to report him, to block him and get rid of my account.
Scared me enough to ask a male friend to walk me to my car when I was leaving a dance party downtown at midnight the following Saturday.
Scared me enough to become incredibly paranoid about whether or not someone is following me.
Scared me enough to lay awake at night wondering how much this anonymous person knows about me, how much he might have heard of my conversation at dinner that night.
Scared me enough to be completely afraid of being alone… which I most often am and, until recently, loved.
Does he know where I live?
Has he seen me out with my son?
How would I even know it was him if I saw him?
I feel unsafe and incredibly vulnerable. I have no idea what he looks like or anything about him at all, only that he knows all kinds of things about me. He knows what my favorite movies are, what I like to do in my free time and. exactly. what. I. look. like.
We were at one of my favorite restaurants that night, and I know most of the people who work there, and many of the customers. The owners are friends of friends. Now I don’t ever want to go back there in case he’s there waiting.
How do you keep yourself safe from someone you’ve never met?
How do you still stay open to the world?
How do you remain loving and trusting, authentic and unguarded in the face of so much fear?
I am sweet. It is the most common adjective I’ve heard used to describe me. Often it is not necessarily meant as a compliment. As an insult it underestimates me, assumes that that is all there is, that to be sweet means you are naïve and fragile. Fragile. I have fought against this label, indignant of its implications and acutely aware that it pisses me off because it is true. It is perhaps one of the most apt descriptors anyone dares to say to my face, one of my most endearing and simultaneously repelling characteristics. So maybe I am. But I have also been described as a “reckoning force,” that I am someone people take seriously and respect. I feel as though my sweetness, that fragileness I am so hesitant to claim, just got stomped on. But I think the only way I have become a force to be reckoned with is by being fragile, by being run over, by being crushed over and over again, by piecing myself back together, and by being composed of mostly duct tape and super glue after so many breaks.
I’m not sure I believe in God, but I do believe in the beauty of human generosity and in our ability to be more than we are, to rise up and be the biggest, brightest versions of ourselves that we haven’t yet even imagined. I have a lot of really good friends. Ones who rescue me when I need rescuing, who will lend me some duct tape when I run low, who will walk me to my car in the middle of the night and who will raise hell to keep me safe. I trust them.
So how do I stay open to the world? How do I remain loving and trusting, authentic and unguarded in the face of so much fear and uncertainty? Why? Because there is no other choice, so trembling with a sweet and fragile heart, duct tape and super glue, as a force to be reckoned with, I greet the world anew.